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Displaying your dashboard on a screen

Sharing your key metrics with other people in your organisation is a key stage in the journey towards becoming data-driven. A highly effective way to achieve this is to use TV dashboard software like ours to display a selection of key data on a TV screen or monitor in a prominent area in their workplace.

metrics-dashboard-on-a-TV-screen

The benefits these companies see from using TV dashboards are profound. Aside from being able to monitor abnormal events and trends, a simple dashboard with some carefully selected metrics can impact an organisation’s culture, inspiring data-centric conversations (and more importantly, action) like nothing else.

The following guide will explain our recommended approach for getting your dashboard(s) running on a screen.

Overview

With the right equipment and an hour or so of your time, getting your dashboard on to your office wall is relatively straightforward. In a nutshell, our recommended setup involves getting the following in place:

  • One or more screens to display your dashboard(s) on
  • A device that can display a web browser on a screen
  • A wireless internet connection, accessible from where you plan to position your screen(s)

With these ingredients in place, the next step is to connect them all together and load your dashboard from within your device’s web browser.

Selecting a screen

There are no firm requirements for choosing a screen, other than ensuring it is HD (i.e can display in 1080p) and that it has the necessary ports to display the output from the device you select. In our recommended setup you will require an HDMI port. HD TVs work well, as do redundant PC monitors.

You may also want to check what options you have for mounting your screen if you wish to show you dashboard on a wall. Be sure to source the necessary mountings or brackets for securing it to a wall, or purchase a stand before you plan to mount your screen.

Tip: If you’re looking for help with mounting your screen, consider hiring someone for a few hours through TaskRabbit.

Our recommended device

We recommend the ASUS Chromebit for displaying your dashboards on a TV. Chromebits plug directly into an HDMI port on your TV and are relatively inexpensive, optimised for running the most up-to-date version of Google’s Chrome browser, can run in ‘full screen’ mode, can be used in portrait or landscape, and importantly, they’re able to run continuously in the background.

chromebit-hand

Since it’s a Chrome OS device, it’s also compatible with our Chrome app for Chrome OS. Using this you’ll be able to quickly get your dashboard up and running you will not need to reload your dashboard or turn your device on or off - your dashboard will simply be there.

If you don’t have a Chromebit you can of course use a different device, but it must have:

  • A modern browser installed e.g. Chrome or Firefox updated to latest version (IE9 and below and stock Android browsers are not supported)
  • At least 512MB of memory
  • Support for full screen mode
  • HDMI output or proper cable for your screen
  • The ability to connect to a wireless network

A great alternative to the Chromebit is the ASUS Chromebox.

asus-chromebox

Chromeboxes are small but capable computers that also run Google’s Chrome OS - a lightweight but flexible operating system.

In the Geckoboard offices we use several Chromebits and a Chromebox made by ASUS, but there are other variants of the Chromebox about, notably devices from HP and Dell. These will work, but as a minimum we’d recommend making sure there is at least one HDMI port on your device to make it compatible with the widest possible range of screens.

Other devices

There are a whole range of other devices on the market that could be used to display your dashboard on a screen. If you use any of the following, results will vary. Some of the key points to know about each device are listed below:

PC: If you have an old/spare PC to hand you could repurpose it to power the dashboards on your screen. As a minimum it will need to be able to run Google’s Chrome browser (see requirements) and have the necessary ports to connect to your screen.

Chromecast: Google’s Chromecast is a small dongle that plugs into a screen’s HDMI port and allows you to ‘cast’ content to it from Google Chrome (running on your desktop machine), or a number of apps. Casting a browser tab containing your dashboard is a quick way to display a dashboard for a short period of time, but isn’t recommended as a long-term solution as it requires you to keep your dashboard loaded up on your desktop machine.

‘Smart’ TVs: Newer TV sets are now starting to have basic web browsers built into them as standard, removing the need for an external device entirely. Unfortunately, at the moment Smart TVs generally do not work well for loading your dashboard due to the low processing power generally available within TVs. Their browser software also can contain security loopholes, doesn’t benefit from frequent updates from manufacturers and tends to become outdated quickly. As a rule, we do not recommend relying on this as a solution.

Device checklist

  • Can be left on unattended for long periods of time/permanently
  • Runs a modern web browser, ideally Google Chrome
  • Supports landscape or portrait modes
  • Supports full screen mode
  • Has an HDMI output
  • Allows for easy text input (for navigating to your dashboard)
  • Capable of connecting to a wireless network

Displaying your dashboard

Once your hardware is set up, you will need to load up your dashboard in your browser. By far the easiest is to use our Screens feature to pair your device to your Geckoboard account and manage which dashboard is displayed remotely.

Read how to display your dashboard on a TV using Screens in our help article.

Another approach is to navigate your device’s browser to a Secure Sharing Link. Secure Sharing Links allow you to link to a read-only version of a dashboard you’ve created. The same Sharing Link can be loaded on multiple devices and doesn’t require a password to be entered - quicker, but less secure than displaying directly from within your account Sharing Links will update periodically with fresh data, but you can also update them instantly with our remote refresh feature.

If you want to display several dashboards on the same screen you can create a Dashboard Loop. Dashboard Loops allow you to create a single link that will cycle through a series of dashboards you assign to it.

For extra peace of mind, there is also the option to restrict access to your dashboards by IP address.

Don’t have a KPI Dashboard to display?

Create your own dashboard today, by starting a free Geckoboard trial (no credit card required)!